New Zealand 33-6 Australia, Tri-Nations, September 19
Devastated Deans rues lack of heart
September 20, 2009
Wallabies coach Robbie Deans talks to the All Blacks following their victory in Wellington © Getty Images
Australia coach Robbie Deans has questioned the commitment of his players in the wake of their 33-6 defeat at the hands of New Zealand in Wellington.
A shattered Deans said his listless team "departed the contest" from the 70th minute mark and the way his players lay down that left the former Crusaders mentor questioning their heart.
"At that point, when we weren't successful in scoring and the All Blacks did, we rolled over. We'll review everything ... clearly the last 10 was unacceptable," said Deans, whose team were criticised heavily by Australian media.
"Obviously the All Blacks were in a circumstance where they're trying to avert history. They didn't want to be the first team to lose three (home tests in a season). They showed that, whereas our group, and I'm part of it, didn't show the same pride in the jersey."
The 27-point margin was the fifth biggest in 135 trans-Tasman tests and surely a career low point for Deans, who established a Super rugby dynasty in Christchurch. His only victory in seven stoushes with All Blacks coach Graham Henry was the first, 34-19 at Sydney last year, but that giddy evening must feel like an age ago.
A shock 21-6 defeat of Tri-Nations champions South Africa in Brisbane two weeks ago also seems like a blip for Deans' men, who lacked physicality across the park last night, particularly at the breakdown.
"They (All Blacks) attacked the ball and the man in that area and they got a lot out of that," Deans said. "We had blokes who were looking for the next job when the first job wasn't done."
The average age of the Australian starting team was less than 24, nearly four years per man younger than New Zealand. The youngest of them all, 19-year-old fullback James O'Connor, had another All Blacks Test to forget but Deans refused to use youth as an excuse.
"Age doesn't really matter, you're either up for it or you're not and we were a couple of volunteers short, consistently," he said. "They brought the intensity and the detail two weeks ago (but) the All Blacks showed how quickly the tables can be turned if you don't deal with the realities of test rugby. You've got to earn your stripes in every outing and I think we possibly got a little bit ahead of ourselves."
Seasoned flanker Rocky Elsom agreed it was time for accountability. "We've got a lot of looking inwards to do," he told NZPA. "In some ways it's a bad thing that we don't have a game in the near future because you always like to capitalise on what you're feeling now. We really have to have a look at what we're doing ... it's not acceptable for us, it's never acceptable to be out-enthused like that."
The Wallabies were labelled a "flustered, disorganised mob" as Australia's rugby media waded into them in the wake of their latest loss.
The Sun-Herald newspaper's lead headline was fittingly bleak. "Back to black days -- Kiwis deal Australia big dose of reality."
The paper's rugby writer Greg Growden didn't hold back in his match report.
"For the umpteenth time this season, this was a hopeless, unforgivable Australian performance, and everyone, including coach Robbie Deans, who strangely veered away from using attacking replacements when several players had clearly lost the plot, must take the blame for another disgraceful night.
"This inept mob were found once again to be well out of their depth; they were smashed at the scrum, made a hash of so many breakdowns by constantly losing the ball, and several players, including young fullback James O'Connor, had absolute shockers. Several others, including David Pocock and Lachie Turner, were brutally exposed, while countless senior players went missing."
Growden said the Wallabies too often hoisted the white flag in pressure encounters, after talking themselves up before a Test. "For the second time this year they could not take advantage of the All Blacks being in crisis, showing they are a flustered, disorganised mob."
Former Wallabies coach John Connolly gave O'Connor four out of 10 in his player ratings in the Sun-Herald while All Blacks Richie McCaw (9.5), Adam Thomson (9) and Andrew Hore (9) were his highest rated.
The league-dominated Sunday Telegraph buried its brief match report deep in its sports section and focused on former Wallabies captain Nick Farr-Jones demanding Deans get harder on his players.
"One of the great things Deans is doing behind the scenes is building a great team spirit. I think it is probably time he reads the riot act a little bit," Farr-Jones told Sky Sport. "This might be the wake-up call and he says `enough is enough. You have got to perform; you are professional players, we expect you to perform'."
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